Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
Summary:There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.
Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.
As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.
Sarah Fine’s Of Metal and Wishes has so many great things going for it. It is a vivid and sinister novel retold from none other than The Phantom of the Opera, and it shines in both execution and concept.
16-year-old Wen assists her father with his work as a doctor in a slaughterhouse. When someone tries to embarrass Wen, she goes to the rumored “ghost” living in the slaughterhouse and, skeptically, makes a wish; not expecting it to be granted.
Jima finishes writing and looks up at me, her delicate face full of expetation. “The ghost will listen,” she says. “He’ll help. Tell him what you want.”
I pull the coin from my pocket and toss it onto the table. “Ghost, show me what you can do. Prove yourself to me. I want to be impressed.”
But her wish is granted – in an unusually violent way, and, guiltily, Wen must deal with the consequences of what has happened.
While the world-building certainly had quite a bit of potential, I found it to be lacking a bit overall. Set in futuristic Asia where there are two main social classes – the Noor (the lower, laboring class) and the Itanyai (the middle class) – I found the difference between these two social classes absolutely intriguing. Each have different personalities and beliefs, and I loved seeing how the differences between them were portrayed. However, I felt there could have been a bit more depth here, because the backstory as to how this world came to be was practically nonexistent.
Additionally, were times when I struggled to remember that this was, in fact, taking place in a futuristic Asia because the Asian customs and traditions simply weren’t there. The majority of the time it almost read a bit more like an American historical fiction novel than the unique fantasy novel that it is, which was disappointing.
Wen is not a character that is especially well-developed or complex, but she is likeable and relatable nonetheless. She is kind and thoughtful; while being a bit blunt and impulsive as well. On the other hand, we also have Melik – the strong but silent leader of the Noor who Wen ends up falling for. Their romance is sweet and slow-burning, and positively delightful.
I am intrigued in seeing where this novel goes in the next installment, and I am sure that lovers of well-written fantasy, romance, or ghost stories will quite enjoy this.